Social Reproduction in the Neoliberal Era: Payments, Leverage and the Minskian Household

13 December 2018

Please join us for the keynote addresses at the Historical Materialism Sydney 2018 conference. All parts of the conference are free and open to all. 

The first keynote address will be given by the School of Social and Political Sciences Head of School, Lisa Adkins. 


In this talk, I am concerned with the shifting ground of social reproduction, that is, with shifts to the processes through which the life of populations is maintained and reproduced in the post-Keynesian or, as it is also often termed, neoliberal era. While the concept of social reproduction is most readily associated with Marxist and socialist feminist analyses produced in previous decades, and especially analyses of Fordist-Keynesian social and economic formations, there has been a recent revival of interest in the concept. This revival has taken place in the context of the increasing precarity of life, namely, in a context where the material maintenance of life appears to be under sustained threat. Indeed, in some quarters it has been declared that social reproduction is in crisis, not least because of the retreat of the state from social provisioning and the protection of populations. Drawing on the critical insights of earlier Marxist and socialist feminist analyses, and especially the understanding that the reproduction of life is both a condition of existence for capital and also stands as source of productive potential, in this talk I will suggest that rather than in crisis the maintenance of life has shifted its axis. At issue in the reproduction of life in post-Keynesianism is not a set of practices which work to support capital via the daily maintenance and reproduction of labour power and on which the survival of households also depends. Instead, post-Keynesian life is hardwired to the provision of payments to finance capital. Such payments not only give households access to the maintenance of life but also serve as a source of liquidity for financial markets and hence for finance-led growth. I will suggest, in other words, that social reproduction has shifted in focus from the maintenance of labour power to the maintenance of contracted payments, a shift which places the household as central to the economic order and in particular as central to the economic and political project of finance led growth. This household is one which I will characterize here as Minskian. This is a household which exists in a continuous state of speculation and serves as an anchor for financial capital via the provision of flows of money to finance markets.


Lisa Adkins is Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Sydney. Her home Department is Sociology and Social Policy. She is also an Academy of Finland Distinguished Professor (2015-19). She has previously held Chairs in Sociology at the University of Manchester and at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has served as a member of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts (Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences Panel), 2011-13. Lisa’s contributions and interventions in the discipline of Sociology lie in the areas of economic sociology, social theory and feminist theory. Her recent research has focused on the restructuring of labour, money and time in the context of the growth of finance. A book based on this research – The Time of Money – will be published in 2018 by Stanford University Press. The book appears in the Currencies: New Thinking for Financial Times series edited by Melinda Cooper and Martijn Konings. Her recent research has also focused on the condition of unemployment and on wageless life. This has been supported by the Australian Research Council, the Academy of Finland and by a 2018 National Library of Australia (NLA) Fellowship. Lisa is joint editor-in-chief of the journal Australian Feminist Studies (Routledge/Taylor&Francis).

 Please find the original event page for the entire conference here

Event details

  • When: 10.00am - 11.30am
  • Where: ABS Case Study Lecture Theatre 2080
    The University of Sydney 
  • Cost: Free
  • Contact: Gareth Bryant
    T: +61 2 9351 3070
  • Speaker/ Performer: Professor Lisa Adkins 

Social Reproduction in the Neoliberal Era: Payments, Leverage and the Minskian Household

Where ABS Case Study Lecture Theatre 2080
The University of Sydney 

13 December 2018

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